Can I walk my dog during the UK lockdown? The rules explained

Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 3:28 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 3:29 pm
This is what you need to know about walking your dog during the lockdown (Photo: Shutterstock)

With the UK entering lockdown and social distancing measures tightened up, dog walkers may be concerned about whether or not they can take their dog outside for exercise.

This is everything you need to know about whether you can walk your dog outside.

Can I walk my dog?

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Addressing the public on 23 March, Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that people are only allowed to leave their home where “absolutely necessary”, citing the following activities:

- One form of daily exercise- To travel to and from work where absolutely necessary- To shop for essential items- To fulfil any medical or care needs

Dog walking is permitted as part of the one form of daily exercise outlined by the new rules.

This means that dog walkers will be allowed to leave their home once a day to take their dog for a walk as part of these guidelines.

Households with two or more adults will have to take it in turns to walk their dog if the dog usually gets walked more than once a day.

If you live alone and your dog normally gets walked two times or more per day, you will be required to reduce this to just once a day.

You’ll also need to stay at least two meters away from any other dog walkers or members of the public you encounter, as part of the social distancing measures.

How else can I keep my dog entertained during lockdown?

If you can only take the dog out for a walk once a day, you might find your furry friend getting restless.

There are various ways you can keep your dog stimulated whilst staying indoors.

The RSPCA advises the following:

- Teach your dog a new trick or command, as this is great mental stimulation- Use a Kong or a food puzzle at dinner time instead of just giving them a bowl of food- Hide treats around the garden, if you have one, as the RSPCA states: “scent work can be a great way to keep them busy for ages!”- Let your dog listen to Spotify, which recently launched ‘My Dog’s Favourite Podcast’, which features a range of spoken word, sound and original music designed to aid relaxation in dogs

How long will lockdown last?

The lockdown will last at least three weeks.

After those three weeks are up, the government will reassess the measures in place and, if the evidence allows it, potentially relax them where possible.

These are the symptoms of coronavirus (Photo WHO)

Coronavirus: the facts

What is coronavirus?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.

What caused coronavirus?

The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.

How is it spread?

As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But, similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore, covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.

What are the symptoms?

The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.

What precautions can be taken?

Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.

Government advice

As of Monday 16 March the government advised that everyone should be observing social distancing - avoiding unnecessary travel and working from home where possible. Anyone with a cough or cold symptoms now needs to self-isolate with their entire household for 14 days.

The government has now instructed bars, restaurants and theatres to close and will review on a ‘month to month’ basis. Schools closed from Friday 20 March for the foreseeable future, and exams have been cancelled.

The over 70s or anyone who is vulnerable or living with an underlying illness are being asked to be extra careful and stay at home to self-isolate. People with serious underlying health conditions will be contacted and strongly advised to undertake "shielding" for 12 weeks.For more information on government advice, please check their website.

Should I avoid public places?

The advice now is to avoid public places and any non-essential travel. Travel abroad is also being advised against for the next 30 days at least, and many European countries have closed their borders.

What should I do if I feel unwell?

Don’t go to your GP but instead call NHS 111 or look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.

When to call NHS 111

NHS 111 should be used if you feel unwell with coronavirus symptoms, have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus.